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Why science needs the humanities

[This is reprinted from the Math Scholar blog.]

Introduction

Foster in Contact, saying “They should have sent a poet”

Earlier this year, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin declared that state colleges and universities should educate more electrical engineers and fewer French literature majors: “All the people in the world that want to study French literature

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Bacteria adapt to antibiotics before your eyes

How fast can evolution operate?

A common arguments against evolution raised by creationist and intelligent design writers is that no significant changes have ever been observed by humans in biological species, so evolution must be regarded only as a “theory.” In a previous Blog, we mentioned how this argument is refuted by recent research results,

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How fast can evolution operate?

Creationists often argue that evolution is “only a theory” [Miller2008]. This claim of course confuses the vernacular meaning of “theory” (a half-baked conjecture that has not been seriously tested) with the scientific meaning of “theory” (a solid, falsifiable hypothesis that has led to a rich literature of quantitative, empirical science). Behind the creationists’ comment is

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Are Noah’s ark and flood literal scientific facts?

Introduction

In Williamstown, Kentucky, a full-scale reproduction of Noah’s ark is now open to the public. Claimed to be the largest all-wood structure in the world, it is 155 m (510 ft) long, 26 m (85 ft) wide, and 16 m (51 ft) high, closely corresponding to the biblical dimensions, given in Genesis 6:15, namely

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Are the “hobbits” a separate prehuman species?

The 2004 “hobbit” discovery and controversy

In 2004 the scientific world was startled by the announcement of the discovery of Homo floresiensis, more commonly known as the “hobbit” due to its diminutive size, on the island of Flores in the Indian Ocean north of Australia. Remarkably, this specimen lived until as recently as 66,000 years

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The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Evolution before our eyes

Introduction

Creationists often argue that evolution is “just a theory,” since we don’t see it in action today — it is “hypothesized” to have occurred, but scientists have no proof. Intelligent design writers acknowledge that evolution might occur “within kinds,” but question whether it can occur beyond the limits of a “kind” (which probably means

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Would modern science have developed without the monotheistic tradition?

Introduction

There is one fundamental sense in which science can be seen to be partners with religion: the “idea of progress.” Robert Nisbet defines the idea of progress as the notion that mankind has advanced in the past, from barbarism and ignorance, is now advancing, and will continue to advance through the foreseeable future [Nisbet1980,

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Is religion a pernicious delusion in world history?

In his book The God Delusion Dawkins proposes that a belief in God is an accidental by-product of evolution, a “mis-firing of something useful” [Dawkins2006, pg. 188]. Elsewhere he has written that a belief in God is somehow a “virus of the mind.”

Peter Turchin in the role of religion in world history

Yet other

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How likely is it that scientists are engaged in a conspiracy?

Frauds in scientific research

From time to time, the scientific community is rocked by cases of scientific fraud. Needless to say, such incidents do not help instill confidence in the public mind that is already predisposed to be skeptical of inconvenient scientific findings. Some notable cases include: (a) a series of papers in nanoelectronics by

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Life existed on earth 4.1 billion years ago

New evidence for life on earth 4.1 billion years ago

In a report released 19 Oct 2015 (see also this New Scientist report and the original technical article), geochemists at UCLA announced evidence that life very likely existed 4.1 billion years ago, which is at least 300 million years earlier than the previous research consensus.

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